22 March, 2007


Back in 1968 the British government expelled all the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. They wanted to give the Americans a military base on Diego Garcia and the Americans wanted no people living around the base. Chagos is more than one hundred miles from Diego Garcia. In the year 2000, the High Court in England gave the islanders the right to go back home. They began returning home. Then, in 2004 the government used “executive power” to overturn the court order and to ban the return of the islanders to their ancestral home. The islanders went back to the High Court, and the court held the government’s action was illegal. The British government has appealed to the Court of Appeal. The court is now considering its decision which should come quite soon.

What is of relevance to us in Anguilla is that the government’s lawyer has argued that none of us who live in British Overseas Territories has a right of abode which “cannot be removed by Her Majesty”. You can read all about it in the Times Newspaper here.

One of the readers of this Blog has submitted the following comment, which I publish as a guest editorial.

Guest Editorial: The Coming Exile.

The British government’s lawyer has argued in the Court of Appeal that with the flourish of a ministerial pen, the busybodies in London may yet evict the lot of us! This has come as a shock to all the citizens of the Anguilla, the Falkland Islands, Bermuda and any of the other 11 territories under British sovereignty.

This goes a step further than taking my house, with appropriate compensation, because it's in the way of the airport runway expansion. Teacher George and Hubert have been going on about this for years, about how the British want to drive us back into slavery, take our lands and houses and force us to become homeless beggers in Europe. I hate to give aid and comfort to their quest to mislead the people. But, it seems there may be some truth in what they have been saying.

I believe various human rights conventions, perhaps starting with that signed in 1945 in connection with the founding of the United Nations, prohibits people from being exiled from their own country.

But what do I know, a simple islander?

What do you, the readers, think? Does the British government in this day and age have the right to rely on ancient common law precepts more consonant with the concept of the divine right of kings to rule? Or, do you think, as I do, that the court will put the government sharply into its place?

I can tell you that, if the court does not do it, one of the first Constitutional amendments that we must insist on is a provision that has the Queen acknowledging in our Constitution that she claims no right in future to evict the people from this island. The courts have ruled since the Statute of Westminster that once such a concession is made, neither the British government nor Parliament can go back and take it away.

1 comment:

  1. What a terrible story. What an outrage? Does anyone know what happened in the case? What did the court decide?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.